Editors Notes, May 16, 2022: The teen girl mentioned in this article was initially described as a "high school girl," this article has been updated to indicate that she was 19 years old and not in high school any longer.
Investigative journalist Julie Roys says she is withdrawing from an upcoming conference she had launched in order to “be sensitive to the safety of the survivor community” following a controversy over content in her 2017 book, Redeeming the Feminine Soul.
Roys, who operates The Roys Report at JulieRoys.com, said on social media on May 6 that she is withdrawing from the Restore conference, which is scheduled to be held May 20-21 at Judson University in Elgin, Ill. She previously had released a statement apologizing for how she framed a relationship she was a part of with a 19-year-old girl in that 2017 book. At the time, Roys was a 30-something youth group leader.
In a desire to be sensitive to the survivor community, I've made the difficult decision to step down from leading & speaking at the upcoming Restore Conference. I pray this decision brings healing. A letter I'm sending to those registered is linked below: https://t.co/OxRoGXERKO— Julie Roys (@reachjulieroys) May 7, 2022
“In a desire to be sensitive to the safety of the survivor community, I have made the difficult decision to step down from leading and speaking at the upcoming Restore Conference,” Roys wrote on May 6. “Given the controversy, and the hurt caused by what I wrote in my book, I fear that speaking at the conference would be a distraction.
“The primary reason I planned the conference was to provide a safe space for those hurt by the church to find care and community,” she wrote. “I am concerned that my participation in the conference would be an impediment to that, so I’m stepping down. I also believe God is calling me aside for a time so I can see Him and myself more clearly.”
In the 2017 book, Roys describes the 19-year-old girl as a “troubled teen” who came from a “tumultuous home” and practiced self-destructive behaviors. Roys, in the book, says she developed a relationship of “codependency” with the girl. It was, she says in the book, “emotionally dysfunctional,” “unhealthy and dangerous.” At the time, Roys was married and in her mid-30s, she says in the book.
“I shared the story of ‘Sarah’ to communicate the ways in which I was wrong and to warn others of similar pitfalls,” Roys wrote in an April 25 statement. “It was then, and remains now, a difficult topic for me. Over the past several days, I have been confronted for the way I framed the story, especially assigning blame to someone who at one time had been a student in a ministry I helped lead. It should have been obvious to me that I held a position of power. I regret I didn’t see this at the time I wrote the book. And I regret I didn’t own it more fully when this was first brought to my attention recently.
“... I have reached out to a trusted professional to help me process what remains a painful memory, and to help me remove any blinders that remain,” Roys added. “Because of the work I do, I understand how important it is for me to grow in this area, and I am committed to that process. Thank you to those who have pointed out these painful truths to me. I am so sorry for how this has hurt so many on so many levels. I am especially sorry for how it may have hurt Sarah.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Wavebreakmedia
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.